TRAVERSE CITY — First graders and kindergartners gazed into a webcam at the International School at Bertha Vos, and a group of students clad in tall, red and white papers hats peered back from more than 500 miles away.
The hats were an homage to Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” The Traverse City Area Public Schools students at Bertha Vos talked about the late author with first graders from a Pittsburgh elementary school as part of TCAPS’ Read Around the Planet Program.
Bertha Vos and other TCAPS elementary schools held reading-themed events throughout the week. Other activities included an exhibit of student dioramas based on non-fiction books, family members visiting school and reading to pupils, and a day for students to dress up as their favorite book characters.
The activities help children make connections between reading and their lives outside of school, Bertha Vos Director Katie Bonne said. They also drum up excitement about the written word.
“Creating a joy of reading is something that will promote strong reading skills,” Bonne said. “Students will be excited to practice and incorporate reading into their lives.”
The Dr. Seuss video conference on March 5 clearly stirred students’ excitement on both ends of the webcam connection.
Each class posed Seuss trivia questions to the other. The Bertha Vos students stumped their counterparts with a question about all the places where Sam I Am eats green eggs and ham.
A Pittsburgh student rattled off a long list — in a house, with a mouse, on a boat, in a car — but fell three shy of all the places mentioned in the book.
“You did really good, to remember that many,” said Alicia Rowney, who teaches the combined first grade-kindergarten class at Bertha Vos. “Everyone give her a clap.”
Fun activities are an important part of teaching young children how to read, Rowney said. It can be a difficult process, but Rowney’s pupils made progress this year.
“The kids in this class, they’ve all made at least a year in growth already and they are very engrossed in reading,” Rowney said.
Andrew Zachow, a first grader in Rowney’s class, likes fiction and non-fiction books, but he reads fiction more often.
Zachow said he likes reading because it helps him learn the letters of the alphabet and new words.
“(Be)cause what if you don’t know any letters?” Zachow said.